No-burn days could double for some folks in fall

Posted on March 28, 2014 

 The wood-burning season has passed, but the buzz about this practice will linger long into summer. And you really don't want to miss this one.

The air quality rule for wood burning will get stricter this year. How much stricter? That's what folks are talking about at the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

At a public meeting Thursday, the district introduced the latest thinking that would probably double the number of no-burn days for folks who use a fireplace or a nonregistered burning device, such as a wood stove.

The thinking also includes wider latitude for those who use registered clean-burning devices, such as certified pellet-burning stoves.

Right now, the no-burn threshold is like an on-off switch. You can burn wood in your fireplace or any device until the soot pollution reaches 30 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Above the threshold, you can't burn.

The concept being considered now is to allow wood burning with a registered clean-burning device between 20 and 29 micrograms. Again at 30, nobody would be able to burn. 

Here's the meat of it for fireplace users and those without the registered devices: At 20 micrograms, they would have to stop. That's why the number of no-burn days may double for those folks.

Even below 20 micrograms, the district is proposing to tell residents that burning is discouraged. 

The air district is tightening this rule as part of its campaign to achieve the federal PM-2.5 standard. Medical researchers have linked the microscopic particles to heart disease, lung problems and premature death.

The district is planning draft amendments in April, followed by public workshop. The issue is expected to come before the district board for action in summer.

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